Sweet Dream Makers gives children a place to rest their heads
On a Monday morning in August, Suzanne Broad opened an email from a family who recently received one full bed, a bunk bed and three twin beds from Broad’s creation, Sweet Dream Makers.
It read: “You are a real-life angel. Our hearts are warm because the kids are in beds. We are so grateful to Sweet Dream Makers and to all the people involved in this blessing bestowed upon my family. Thank you.”
For Broad, the message fueled her purpose, to ensure that all children in Palm Beach County, and elsewhere, get a good night’s sleep in a safe, healthy bed so they can be their best at school — and in life.
“Kids c an’t succeed in school when they are sleeping on floors, in cars, or in unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise inappropriate conditions,” said Broad, the founder and executive director of Sweet Dream Makers.
Her organization’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of children and families by providing beds, bedding and essential furniture. Broad works with a network of more than 40 social service agencies and bedding suppliers to identify families in need and provide the best solution to get children and caregivers into beds of their own.
The need in Palm Beach County is greater than you might think. Currently, Sweet D r e a m Ma k e r s r e c e i v e s requests for an average of 150 beds per month or 1,800 per year. This number has grown more than 70 percent since the organization formalized its work by obtaining a 501(c)(3) designation in 2016, and Broad suspects it will grow more still.
The Boc a Raton-based nonprofit launched a Back to School campaign in August to raise awareness about the necessity — and the tremendous need in Palm Beach County — for beds in order for students to reach their full potential in the classroom.
Adopt-A-Family has been a longtime recipient/partner of Sweet Dream Makers. The organization provides new beds and bedding for children and adults in Adopt-A-Family housing programs. Over the past few years, Sweet Dream Makers has donated 431 beds to its families.
“To know that this is an added benefit that we can provide to families who have been through such rough times is something that we do not take lightly,” said Nydia L. Sabugo-Marrou, director of Family Homeless Services for Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches Inc. “We know the true impact that this makes.”
Sweet Dream Makers is making a significant impact in Palm Beach County. To date, the organization has provided 1,734 beds to 773 families throughout the county. Of those who respond to a survey after receiving a bed, 80 percent have reported better behavior, grades and homework habits.
“We know that getting kids into a bed of their own improves more than just their sleep,” Broad said in a news release. “Being well-rested improves grades, health, and family harmony, too.”
Broad’s concerns about the connection between sleep and school success are backed up by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has documented direct correlations between lack of quality sleep and mental health, attention, and behavior problems in children and teens. The American Association of Pediatrics takes this one step further, noting that, “sleep loss poses a serious risk to the physical and emotional health, academic success, and safety of our nation’s youth. The prevalence and effects of insufficient sleep may be further magnified in high-risk adolescents.” ( Judith Owens, “Insufficient sleep in adolescents and young adults: an update on causes and consequences,” 2014).
This research shows children who sleep better are healthier and do better in school and extracurricular activities. They are well-rested and can focus more.
“To see the excitement of our families when they receive new beds and bedding, and knowing they have a safe, clean and comfortable place to sleep, is something you cannot put into words,” SabugoMarrou said. “So many of us take for granted having clean sheets and a bed to sleep in each night. But for many children and adults, this is not an option. Sweet Dream Makers helps make this possible for not only Adopt-A-Family families but for individuals across the community.”
According to Broad, Sweet Dream Makers is the only loc ally ser ving nonprofit focused specifically on beds, bedding and essential furniture for children in need.
“As more caseworkers find out about us, more requests come pouring in,” she said. “We are working to fill as many as we can to help students have the best possible start to the school year.”
You can learn more about Sweet Dream Makers and how to make a donation at SweetDreamMakers.org or by calling 561-571-7363.
Suzanne Broad, founder and executive director of Sweet Dream Makers, and her husband, Brian, who serves as board president, strive to provide beds, bedding and essential furniture to improve the well-being of children and families.